Father's Day Package and eBay

by Bob Seidel

Some of you may recall from prior columns that I hinted broadly to my wife that a new Nikon D70 digital camera would be an excellent Father's Day gift. Well, my wife felt a lot of pressure over that one, but she resisted the pressure and got me something else.

On the other hand, I am always one to buy my own toys. So, guess what? A new Nikon D70 showed up on my doorstep! That gives me an opportunity to discuss the latest in digital cameras. I also decided to sell my prior camera (Olympus E-10) on eBay - that story for later in the column.

The D70 is a digital SLR. The term SLR (Single Lens Reflex) gets a bit misused, but common usage is that it refers to a camera with a through the lens viewing system - i.e. you see in the viewfinder what the lens sees. "Point and Shoot" type cameras have a separate viewer and you don't see exactly the same thing; there is also what is called a parallax problem caused by the fact that the line of sight of the viewer is different from that of the lens. But also, in common usage, SLR refers to a camera with interchangeable lenses. The advantage of being able to change your lens is that you can optimize the particular lens you use for the situation.

My prior camera, the E-10, was a true SLR but did not have a changeable lens. The lens was excellent, but only 35-140mm in equivalent 35mm film terms. I often wanted to go beyond in either direction - I wanted wider scenery shots, and I often had need for more of a telephoto lens when shooting my grandson playing baseball.

But digital SLRs were horribly expensive - $5,000 or more. Finally, Canon came out with a $1,000 SLR (the Digital Rebel) and Nikon followed with the D70 six months later. And, of course, that is just for the body. Lenses cost $200 and up.

But the quality of photos you can obtain with the new systems make the price worthwhile. I am still learning to use the camera (by definition, they are much tougher to use and understand that point-and-shoot cameras) and I haven't produced much in the way of excellent photos yet. But, they're coming!

I paid quite a bit for my E-10, so now it comes time to try to recoup some of the loss. I made a small attempt to sell locally, but ended up posting it on eBay. Now, most of you know that I don't care much for eBay - the concept is fine, but there is a lot of fraud and outright theft going on. You might send in a check for something expensive, and get nothing or the wrong item in return. So I posted a sale for the camera, set the time for 7 days, and sat back. I had set a starting bid price of about half of what I wanted, and a reserve (minimum I would accept) of about 80% of what I wanted. My wife, who does buy stuff on eBay, coached me a bit and told me that things really don't heat up until the very last seconds of the sale. Was she right! There were a few halfhearted bids early on, and I did get a few emails from prospective buyers.

We both watched as the final 30 minutes of the sale clocked down. Sure enough, some higher bids started to appear, and the reserve was passed. But literally in the last 30 seconds, there was a flurry of activity, and the final bid came in at slightly higher than my best expectation. Sold! The bidding was so fast that I couldn't refresh the webpage fast enough to see them. What fun, actually.

I still haven't changed my opinion of eBay much, but I do have to admit that the selling process was painless and worked well for me. Now if all the other sellers were just as honest as I amů

(Bob Seidel is a local computer consultant in the Southport / Oak Island area. You can visit his website at www.bobseidel.com or e-mail him at bsc@bobseidel.com).